Cllr Mark Nottingham's eloquent prediction of a Conservative government in last week's full council meeting came as much of a surprise to me, as I'm sure everyone else present. Following the stunned silence from both sides of the political divide, the evening's business continued as normal. Cllr Nottingham did fall short of lending his support for Labour's Harriet Harman as a less ill-tempered replacement for Gordon Brown but then you can't have everything I suppose!
Sometimes, it's a shame that the public don't see more of what takes place in a council meeting. Admittedly, three hours of heated argument between the parties isn't everyone's idea of entertainment but Thursday night was interesting, to me at least, because it showed how far out of touch the Labour opposition was at times, with the continuing and rapid evolution of modern government.
Thursday was of course a special meeting to discuss the future of 'Shared Services' between local authorities in Kent; a pillar, I pointed out of Labour government strategy. This whole process started in 1998 with Tony Blair's drive towards delivering online services, in which I played a small part and is now experiencing a second wave of change, made more urgent by financial necessity, which I reminded councilors, will change the landscape of local government as they know it.
While I recognize the concerns of Labour members, hours of argument against a proposal, which is, as I argued, a discussion on identifying a suitable template rather than a final blueprint for change, such lengthy amendments and objections did strike me as representing a Luddite objection to the inevitability of unavoidable change, in the way in which local government, driven by harsh financial imperatives, will deliver services to the public in the next ten years.
If you are wondering why you haven't seen the regular Labour group press release after the meeting, it's possibly because they would rather not draw the public's attention to the meeting and an extraordinary outburst from Cllr Clive Hart against council officers, which provoked an angry retort by the council's Chief Executive, Richard Samuel. Cllr Hart's somewhat eccentric, open letter to the Margate Charter Trustees of last week has already been widely distributed and read and Thursday evening may have added to the embarrassment of his Labour colleagues.
I should add, that Labour's most popular blogger, Cllr Nottingham, did find an opportunity, to pop-up with a 'new' and revised prediction at the end of the evening, that after the General Election, Labour would be the largest party in government, having finally realized that his earlier prediction of a Conservative victory might not go down too well with the Party.
Mind you, it could have been worse, as with Yvette Cooper's reported gaffe in the Metro London newspaper:
"The continued growth in the number of long term unemployed shows that Labour is failing to support the people who need their help the most. Unless ministers wake up and stop treating these people like a statistic we risk losing a generation to a culture of worklessness."
I was sorry to read the implication in this week's 'Smudger', in the Thanet Gazunder, that my weblog is boring and somewhat down the local league table, having started the whole process several years ago. I should add, that as Michael Child has spotted, I use an old 'Blogger' template, because I have so many local links that don't easily translate to the new format without considerable work. As a consequence, it's quite possible that because I use a domain, Thanetlife.com and the old style template, this weblog is actually invisible to some weblog aggregators. That said, I'm not in any competition for readers like some others and as you will have noticed, write when time allows and I feel the urge!
Finally, a little Westgate news on the 'continuing Piggy-Bank Bench saga.' This will soon be replaced in situ at the request of Cllrs Goodwin and King. My personal view was that given lobbying by the traders, the Piggy Bank nursery and the police to have it sited elsewhere, the council officer's suggestion that it should go into Adrian Square, might have been a sensible compromise. Clearly we will have to monitor the situation to ensure that it does not once again become a focus for anti-social behavior that the police and the traders fear it will become.